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SWAGGER, NOT STYLE

The worldwide headquarters and hindquarters of freelance writer Chris Klimek

The Sweet Spot: Tegan & Sara at the Warner Theatre, review'd

Chris Klimek

One thing about Canadians: They get that it’s better to promise modestly and deliver in spades, rather than the other way ‘round.

“Overall, I think you will be entertained,” Tegan — point-five of the identical twin folk-duo-turned-tandem-pop-punkstresses Tegan and Sara — undersold before a hormonally supercharged Warner Theatre last night, three songs into a date with an audience that surprised even those sensitive sisters Quin with the pitch and intensity of its lung-power.

The hysteria must have taken them back a little. The duo hadn’t yet outrun their teens before they were playing with Sarah McLachlan and The Pretenders — two useful reference points for triangulating the sort of tuneful-but-tough rock band into which they’ve evolved. Now just shy of 30 and a half-dozen albums in, Tegan and Sara are no longer primarily a sweetly harmonizing emo act beloved by gay women. Their newest, Sainthood, is an angular New Wave confection — stripped of their electro-pop glaze, as they were last night, these songs could’ve dropped at any time in the last 30 years.

They burned through half the new album right our of the gate before reaching back to the more precious, Lilith Fairier fare that, judging by those screams, was what had sold the tickets. Seminal stuff like “My Number” and “Living Room” showcased those elfin harmonies — and cloying banter — that, love ‘em, hate ‘em, like it when The White Stripes cover “Walking with a Ghost” — gave this outfit an identity from the jump.

The lengthy encore found them refitting “Feel It in My Bones,” originally an electronica collaboration with the Dutch DJ Tiesto, as an acoustic ballad.

Polished pros that they are, the sisters Quin know that understatement can also tease. “It’s so hot up here I almost want to take off my cardigan,” Tegan bubbled at one point, providing a wistful refrain for the ladies in the house to squeal throughout the evening: "Take off you cardigan!" But she never did.

A version of this review appears on Click Track, and another in the paper paper.